We’ve received twelve candidate nominations for the 2024 PAEA Board of Directors, which are listed below. Read through their statements and CVs. The Board election opens for voting member representatives at 12 p.m. ET on October 2, and closes at 12 p.m. ET on October 3. Results will be announced during the virtual Business Meeting on October 3.
President Elect Candidates
Dipu Patel, DMSc, MPAS, PA-C
Thank you and I am honored to be considered for the position of President-Elect.
Born in India, raised in Zambia, I came to the United States as a teenager naive about American culture. I had no knowledge of American culture or education. As an immigrant, I had a front row seat to learning new traditions while balancing my ethnic ones, but also lack of understanding from teachers who did not understand my accent or the British way of spelling. Navigating these experiences not only broadened my perspective but also instilled an appreciation for diversity and the value of inclusive education.
These early experiences shaped me into a generative and agile thinker, and they inform who I am as a mom, PA, educator, and innovator. With over two decades of experience, I actively engage with the challenges and opportunities faced by educators, practitioners, and students which has allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the needs, aspirations, and evolving dynamics within our profession.
Throughout my involvement within the Association, I have contributed to enhancing education and professional development through committee and task force service. I firmly believe in the power of collaboration and inclusive decision-making, and strive to foster an environment where every member’s voice is heard and valued.
Furthermore, I am committed to innovation and the integration of emerging technologies to optimize teaching methods and enhance student engagement. I believe that by embracing technology, we can prepare our future PAs to navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape while upholding the importance of human-centered care.
Above all, I would approach this role with humility, respect, and a genuine desire to serve our membership through my lens of global citizenship. I am committed to promoting collaboration, fostering professional growth, and advancing our Association’s vision of “health for all.”
I respectfully declare my candidacy for the President-Elect position on the PAEA Board of Directors. I have been an active participant in PAEA since entering PA education, serving on the PACKRAT Item Writing Committee and as Director at Large on the Board of the PAEA for four years. Furthermore, I continue to serve on the Massachusetts Board of Registration for PAs and teach at multiple PA programs, both at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. My experience in the clinical, academic, and healthcare tech has allowed me to care for patients, educate the next generation of healthcare professionals, impact PA practice policy, and engage with various aspects of social determinants of health. I do not take these privileges lightly. As Vice Chair of Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to use my experience to bring fresh ideas to light that support new programs, initiatives, and practices.
As our profession evolves, so too must our goals and initiatives. PAEA is poised to educate the next generation and to advocate for a practice-ready workforce. As we look upon new horizons in our profession, I am excited about the role of the Board in guiding our profession and advancing excellence in this new landscape. PAEA has made significant strides in competency-based education, leadership, advocacy of the profession, and bringing to the forefront discussions and initiatives in inclusion, equity, and diversity. I believe that I can not only contribute to growing these important ideals but also elevate the conversation through my experience in digital health and advocacy.
While the work of strategic growth moves in many directions, I believe digital health, diversity and inclusion, and professional growth hold the promise of our future not only as a profession but also as consumers of care. Digital health, artificial intelligence, and telehealth have the potential of truly democratizing care through improving access for all communities. Through advocacy and education, we can impact care in underserved and rural communities, expand our professional expertise, and help in mitigating the workforce shortage.
Our profession is rapidly approaching an inflection point where growth will need to be balanced with innovations in education, leadership, and clinical practice. During this exciting time in our profession and within our Association, I would be honored to serve with PAs for PAs. I hope you will consider allowing me to serve the Association and its constituency as President-Elect.
My leadership philosophy centers around the principles of servant leadership. I believe that leadership is not about power or authority but about serving the needs of others and creating a collaborative and transformative environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and supported. Leadership is about curiosity, listening to others, understanding and respecting their perspectives, and empowering them to achieve their goals.
As a PAEA leader, I would uphold the organization’s mission and values by being an advocate for our programs that do the hard work of educating and training the next generation of PAs. There are several areas where PAEA can support the work of member programs:
● Recruitment of students who bring a variety of experiences that inform a practice-ready PA workforce
● Support of programs in the recruitment and retention of well-qualified diverse faculty
● Elevation of the PA profession in the pursuit and dissemination of research and scholarly work.
As a profession, evidence-based, patient-centered care is at the core of our work. I hope to lead and foster these philosophies to promote interprofessional education and practice by forging partnerships with other like-minded organizations to advance our profession in the new digital health landscape.
The future of our profession is dependent on our ability to remain competitive in a national and global market. This is true not only for the PA profession but for all healthcare professions and industries that will augment clinical practice in the future. We need leaders to develop bold ideas and promote new programs that will navigate the profession and the Association in new directions.
These goals can only be met if we invest in our future. This starts with our students and our members. Engaging fresh faces and ideas representing diversity of life, cultural experiences, and career paths will lead to tangible changes for the betterment of our profession, allow us to break free from the burdens of historical norms, and allow for breakthroughs in innovation. Navigating the changes and challenges that are before us, both known and unknown, is what makes leading a profession that has so much to offer exciting. Entry level doctoral degrees, name change, and optimal team practice are the beginnings of ideas that are crucial to the success of our profession. I wholeheartedly believe that PAEA should lead these ideas and shape the conversations that will no doubt impact PA education and growth in the years to come.
As healthcare systems continue to evolve into more complex and intricate organizations, and as the academic landscape becomes more decentralized, we need to recalibrate and refocus our efforts on not where we are now but where we will be in the next ten to twenty years.
Mary L. Warner, DBH, PA-C
Hello, my name is Mary Warner and I am the department chair of PA Studies at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. I have been a PA in both full-time clinical practice for 10 and as a PA educator for 22 years. I am interested in serving as the President-Elect of the PAEA Board of Directors because I would like to give back to the organization that fostered my professional growth as an educator and leader. My past service to PAEA includes serving as a committee member of the Research Institute (in the 2000’s), PAEA Nominee to the NCCPA Board and NCCPA Board Chair (2018), and as a member and now Chair of the Research Mission Advancement Committee. These leadership experiences have informed and positively impacted my work as a PA educator at every turn. I am truly thankful to the many colleagues who taught and encouraged me and would like to serve in this role to honor their commitment to PA education. If you are interested in learning more about my perspectives and views, I would encourage you to review my answers to the questions below. Thank you, Mary
My commitment to the PA profession has afforded me many opportunities to participate as a leader ranging from state chapter President to Chair of the NCCPA Board of Directors. Truthfully I sought out leadership opportunities because my PA program director said on our last day of the program, “After you graduate, you must advocate for our profession at every turn and in every environment or it will fade away.” Having followed her advice verbatim, each leadership opportunity has been a chance to grow, learn about others’ perspectives, improve my leadership skills, communicate more effectively and negotiate change with others. Each leadership experience has informed the next opportunity that arises.
Beyond being a leader with some experience, the role of PAEA President Elect is unique. To be successful as a PAEA President, I would lean in to my new way of thinking about health and disease. I have shifted my focus away from trying to improve access to care or diagnosis to finding upstream solutions to the root causes of social determinants of health. One of my colleagues calls this being an “upstreamist.” This approach challenges my childhood beliefs that equal rights is the same as equity. This approach forces me to examine the structure of systems and policies that may impact student success or facilitate promotion of some faculty over others. This approach helps me focus on identifying best practices to improve the student experience for all students. This approach evokes questions about how to recruit faculty who are from diverse backgrounds as a means to improve student connectedness and sense of belonging. This approach makes me wonder how PAEA can support excellence in leadership, scholarship and equity and inclusion as an upstreamist.
In my opinion, the role of a leader is to potentiate others to be successful. The best leaders facilitate dialogue, encourage a shared understanding of issues or situations, and elicit disparate views to ensure the voices of many are heard. The core values of PAEA align with my personal view of leadership because in order to potentiate others, a leader must value collaboration, learning for themselves and the group, diversity of opinions, approach complex problems through the lens of equity and inclusion.
While serving as the PAEA Nominee to the NCCPA Board, I observed that the quality of the discussions and decisions were positively correlated with full board members participation. In instances when I am asked to chair meetings today, I use a technique to ensure that all board members have the opportunity to be heard. Before a conversation wraps up, I invite each person from whom the board has not heard to provide their perspective. This technique empowers less extroverted board members to share their views which improves the group’s diversity of thought, fosters understanding when there are differing views, as well as promotes board member engagement and inclusion. I imagine that this approach to facilitating meetings supports PAEA’s mission and many of PAEA’s values.
I have found that when an institution or organization is faced with multiple complex challenges at once, its success in overcoming them is related to achieving a shared vision and goals. The role of the board in this environment is to understand the nuances of each issue, recognize differences in perspectives, and facilitate the development of common ground. Practically speaking, routine SWOT analyses can be employed as a means to gather data as the landscape changes, and to hypothesize about differing perspectives and implications. Utilizing the stages of change theories (ie. Kotter or Lewin, not the ones in motivational interviewing) along with theories of innovation (Christianson) or improvement science may provide a structure for PAEA’s work and clarify the conditions of change. Using negotiation strategies may be helpful when conversations are stymied or at an impasse.
Given the rapidly changing environment and the introduction of new competing needs, the most important board strategy is bring the PA education community together to develop a strong, cohesive voice based on share visions of the future.
When I think about my experiences in the context of advancing PAEA’s mission, I believe we need to mentor the new generation of: 1) educators to become the leaders of the future, 2) researchers and scholars that are recognized by medicine and nursing as experts to be consulted, and 3) advance equity and inclusion in the PA profession and beyond.
Shalon R. Buchs, MHS, PA-C
We are a product of our life experiences; our perspectives are shaped by the experiences we have throughout our lives. While I was unaware at the time, growing up in a rural community with a financially struggling single mother I gained the perspective of a disadvantaged individual. While this only provides a small glimpse into what shaped my world views, it is this that in part has given me significant drive and passion. As a PA educator, I aim to leverage my passion and dedication to benefit our profession.
It is my belief that the growth and success of our profession rests upon our shoulders as educators; it begins with us and the next chapter rests with the students we are influencing. One of my greatest passions lies in the student experience. I am intrigued by it and driven to understand and improve it. By creating inclusive environments, modeling positive behavior, and practicing compassion and empathy, we can make a profound difference. As gatekeepers of the profession, we have a critical duty to set a positive example to instill professional values with our students as we mold them into competent professionals that will continue to carry our profession forward.
PAEA’s unique position to shape the trajectory of the PA profession is exciting! I am committed to the mission and values of the organization and believe that leading through these values will move our profession forward. PAEA’s emphasis on well-being deeply resonates with me. I am passionate about the well-being of our members and PA students; I am dedicated to supporting individuals within their respective organizations, both personally and professionally. Serving our profession through PAEA allows me to better understand and address the needs of our members, making a meaningful impact on a profession that holds immense significance to me.
Advancing excellence through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion will require the participation of all involved in PA education. It has long been my belief that all PA educators are leaders, and with that it is important that we all recognize our role in advancing the mission of PAEA. Board members have an opportunity and responsibility to lead by example with personal and professional growth and through advocacy while working to advance the mission of the organization.
PAEA is working to advance excellence; to do this we must participate in regular self-reflection, forward thinking, and continuous improvement. As the landscape of both education and medicine rapidly evolve, PAEA will have to use this process of reflection, forward thinking, and improvement to be innovative to continue meeting the ever-changing needs of member programs and PA students. Board members participating in these processes will be needed for their specific skill sets and to challenge the status quo. I will leverage my experiences in continuous quality improvement to benefit PAEA as we advance excellence in PA education.
While we have seen rapid evolution in some areas of medicine and education, we have seen almost no change in other areas. As a member of the Board, I see advocacy as a responsibility. Specific areas that need to change and therefore require advocacy are that of diversity, equity, and inclusion, in all aspects of PA education and in healthcare. Directed effort to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential and I am committed to ensuring that this work translates into measurable outcomes. Achieving excellence through equity and inclusion, for me, is woven into effective leadership practice. Assuring all individuals feel heard, valued, respected, and understood is a key component to effective leadership. It is my practice to actively seek differing perspectives by being receptive to feedback from my colleagues and students regarding opportunities to improve my inclusivity practices. It is my expectation to have ongoing growth and learning in this area as I strive to be an increasingly inclusive leader to best serve PAEA and my own institution. Ultimately, promoting a culture of inclusivity and recognizing and addressing disparities in education and in healthcare will help to ensure that PA graduates are better equipped to meet the healthcare needs of all patients.
An organization’s values communicate the cultural expectations and provide the foundation for its work. PAEA’s core values along with the strategic plan establish a framework for progress toward the PAEA vision. The core values should be central to organizational leaders’ activities and decisions when acting on behalf of and representing the organization in any way.
Assuring that PAEA’s core values guide decision making will be central to my role as a board member to ensure that the organization moves in the desired direction. The organization’s core values were carefully selected and are pivotal in creating a positive and productive environment. Upholding these values will foster a healthy culture at PAEA while simultaneously promoting progress. While PAEA identifies many core values, I will focus on wellbeing and its connection to other identified values.
Prioritizing wellbeing is critical to creating a positive and productive working environment. This value requires recognition of the interconnectedness of the different elements that shape our lives and the lives of others; we must also provide support and resources that address these various elements. To effectively uphold this value in an organization, it’s essential to have a holistic approach and respect the unique needs and experiences of each team member. This means creating a culture of inclusion and equity, acknowledging inequalities, and advocating for resources and support for the crucial elements that would promote wellbeing for all. By prioritizing wellbeing, we create a healthy culture with a positive environment which leads to workforce sustainability and higher quality overall.
The Board Secretary, as a member of the Executive Committee, carries out various detail-oriented duties and is relied upon for accurate record keeping and strong communication skills. My tendency to be deliberate and careful in my work along with my strong sense of responsibility sets me up well for this position. Various experiences throughout my time as an educator and in the clinical setting have provided opportunities to enhance these skills and apply them in meaningful ways.
Experiences gained as Director of Admissions and further refined in my current role in the Office of Continuous Quality Improvement have honed my organizational skills and highlighted the importance of paying attention to details. Efficiency in these roles is reliant upon staying organized and adhering to firm deadlines. Additionally, skillful communication is critical to ensure all stakeholders are both heard and informed as the processes progress. Listening, speaking, writing, and non-verbal cues are all necessary for successful communication. Prospective students, faculty, staff, and administrators are very different groups that must be communicated with during these processes; knowing the audience has become very important when crafting a message. The important component of ‘knowing the audience’ has been a consideration for me from bedside medicine to the classroom, and in various administrative roles. I believe this is also critical for a Board Secretary.
Director at Large Candidates
Karen Graham-Burnet, PH.D., PA-C
I am excited about the opportunity to run for a director-at-large position on the PAEA Board of Directors. I have been preparing for this role throughout my 16 years of service to the organization on various committees and subcommittees. These previous service experiences have given me insight into multiple facets of the organization (including research and government relations), and my current appointment on the finance committee has been very helpful in providing a 360-degree view of organizational operations. I also have leadership experience at the state academy level and faculty experience in three very different types of PA programs. As a PAEA board member, high-priority issues for me will be PA faculty retention, leadership development, continued stewardship of fiscal resources, and continued attention to equity and inclusion for all PA programs and faculty within the organization.
Since beginning my PA education career in 2005, PAEA has been a vital part of my professional growth, development, and longevity in this career. I would welcome the opportunity to further serve the organization and support a new generation of PA faculty. It is crucial that the sense of welcome and connection I experienced at PAEA forums as a new faculty member and the opportunities for involvement within the organization remain available to our newer members, despite our growth in size. As a board member, I will promote policies and practices that support PA faculty development, retention, and engagement within the organization, and I will encourage us to be a forward-thinking organization in this era of rapid cultural and educational change. It would be a great honor to serve my PA education colleagues and our profession in this manner. Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.
As a director at large of the PAEA Board of Directors, I will be committed to promoting PAEA’s mission of “advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion.” I have become particularly concerned about leadership development in PA education over the past several years as I have watched programs struggle to recruit directors and colleagues thrust into leadership positions with little training or leadership development. In a recently published study I conducted to qualitatively examine PA faculty attrition, ineffective leadership emerged as the most prominent theme in attrition decisions. In fact, strong program leadership is a potential solution for all of the major attrition themes identified in that study. My interactions with PAs who have left academia have given me a strong sense of urgency about leadership development in our profession. As PA education grows, we have a growing cohort of experienced faculty with the potential to move into program leadership, but they may lack the training or resources to step into leadership roles confidently and effectively. As a member of the board of directors, I will advocate for policies and practices that support leadership development among PA educators, including additional and innovative methods to offer these opportunities in the changing academic and cultural landscape.
Scholarship is key to advancing excellence in PA education because a robust professional literature is necessary for data-driven organizational and educational decisions. I have been a part of advancing PAEA’s mission through scholarship in the past through my service on the Research Council (now the Research Mission Advancement Commission) from 2013-2017 and through my own small research contributions. Just as high-quality clinical research should drive our patient care, high-quality educational and workforce research should drive our educational practice and advocacy efforts. I am committed to advocating for continued and increasing emphasis on research support and scholarship development within PAEA.
Finally, I would be honored to have the opportunity to continue to advance PAEA’s efforts toward equity and inclusion in PA education. The organization represents a diverse set of PA programs that vary in size, geographic location, sponsoring institution characteristics, resources, and student and faculty populations. I am committed to advocating for an organizational environment in which all programs and faculty experience belonging and in which resources and supports are available to help all programs succeed for the benefit of our students and an increasingly diverse patient population.
PAEA’s core values as listed in the Strategic Plan are justice, equity, inclusion, diversity, quality, collaboration, well-being, learning, sustainability, and service. These align with my own values, from the concept of justice (in my faith, I am commanded to “seek justice, correct oppression” – Isaiah 1:17) to the concept of service, which I have demonstrated as a personal value in my 16-year history of service to the PA education profession. As a member of the PAEA Board of Directors, I will uphold these organizational values by keeping them in focus throughout organizational decisions. As a current member of the PAEA Finance Steering Committee, I have appreciated and learned from our treasurer’s leadership in viewing the budget through the lens of the organization’s mission and values, and I plan to filter all aspects of organizational decisions through that lens. One of my particular strengths as a leader is that of “belief,” meaning that I have deeply held core values and am driven and energized by mission-aligned activities and tasks. I will devote whatever time is necessary in service to value-driven projects. Additionally, I love our profession and deeply care about the future sustainability of PA education. I foresee part of my role as a leader within the organization as encouraging and developing a new generation of leaders in PA education who can continue to uphold these values and keep PAEA a thriving and forward-thinking organization that serves member programs well.
There are many lenses through which to view leadership, but I will focus on results from my recent CliftonStrengths® assessment, a well-established tool that identifies a person’s top five leadership strengths. This assessment helped me to not only better understand my strengths, but also how to best serve others on my team. Three of my top five strengths fell within the domain of executing – achiever, belief, and focus – with achiever being my dominant strength. This reflects my work ethic and orientation toward goal setting and implementation. I am the person on a team who likes to outline action steps clearly and will work consistently to make the vision a reality. My second most dominant strength is “learner,” indicating a desire to continuously learn and improve. I listen and gather information about a topic before offering opinions or drawing conclusions. In alignment with my affinity for research and evidence-based medicine, my default question in any discussion is to ask what the data says or what evidence we can base a decision on, then do the work to find that data. I also take the time to learn and better understand the perspectives and experiences of others. Finally, my third dominant strength is “relator,” which is evident in my enjoyment of collaborating closely with other PA educators. As a member of the board, I will work to develop deep connections with other board members and PAEA staff to help us achieve the organization’s goals together.
Shaun L. Grammer, DMSc, PA-C
As I seek renewal for the PAEA Director-At-Large position, I want to highlight some key aspects about me that I believe will contribute to the advancement of PA education and the fulfillment of the PAEA’s mission.
With over a decade of full-time experience in PA education, I have held various roles within different PA programs, including Academic, Admissions, and Clinical Coordinator. I have worked in public and private institutions, academic medical centers, and have experience as both a Program Director for an established PA program and one going through the provisional accreditation process. These diverse experiences have provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by PA programs. Furthermore, as an associate professor with a focus on biostatistics and a data-oriented mindset, I am eager to contribute to faculty development in the realm of research.
Throughout my career, I have successfully navigated sensitive situations, developing a heightened sense of empathy and an ability to appreciate the unique challenges faced by PA educators. As a leader, I embrace a servant attitude and humility, believing that effective leadership is rooted in service to others. If re-elected, I will advocate for PA educators and support the values of the PAEA.
Diversity and inclusion are fundamental principles for me. Through my involvement with PAEA’s Project Access and our program’s MMI interview method, I have gained valuable knowledge and insights that can contribute to promoting diversity and inclusion within PA education.
In conclusion, I am dedicated to utilizing my diverse experiences, leadership skills, and passion for education to serve and support the PAEA membership. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue serving in the PAEA Director-At-Large Board position and contribute to the growth and success of our profession.
Thank you for your consideration.
Shaun Grammer, DMSc, PA-C
The PAEA mission is Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion.
Over past 3 years, my work on the PAEA Board of Directors as a Director-At-Large has been a rewarding experience. During that time, our collective efforts have had important achievements, including finalizing the strategic plan, hiring a new CEO, facilitating the return to in-person conferences and events, transitioning to an improved assessment platform, expanding access to the Journal of Physician Assistant Education, and growing resources to meet the needs of a growing number of PA programs. Additionally, we have also maintained a strategic and stable financial portfolio for the organization.
I am seeking to renew a second 3-year term as a Director-At-Large to continue in serving the PA educational community and organization. The initial 3 years included extensive training, along with managing the challenges of a pandemic and the search for a new CEO. Drawing from that experience, I am determined to make a continued difference and contribute significantly in a second term. One area of focus is faculty development, which plays a vital role in retention, work-life balance, and the overall success of PA education. The PAEA has done a tremendous job at developing faculty. I would like to continue that advancement with increased development in the assessment process defined by the ARC-PA and additional workshops focused on staff of PA programs, which could translate to improved faculty workload.
Additionally, scholarship is a vital aspect of the PAEA mission, and my experience as an associate professor with peer-reviewed publications and presentations and currently working towards a Ph.D. in Biostatistics can assist me in contributing to scholarly initiatives and areas of research methodology and data analysis. I will actively engage in conversations and initiatives that promote faculty development in the area of scholarship.
Equity and inclusion are fundamental principles that must underpin all educational endeavors. My experiences with PAEA’s Project Access and our program’s utilization of the MMI interview method have provided me with valuable knowledge and insight into promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) within PA education. I have also recently completed the PAEA Leadership Summit training focused on JEDI principles, enabling me to incorporate these principles effectively. I am committed to collaborating with the PAEA and its members to advance equity and inclusion through strategic initiatives, policy advocacy, and resource development.
Leadership is discussed in a separate question.
As a leader, I am committed to upholding PAEA’s values of Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Quality, Collaboration, Well-Being, Learning, Service, and Sustainability. I prioritize collaboration, future-mindedness, and working towards a shared vision. Open-mindedness and respect for diverse perspectives are key to fostering an inclusive environment.
Leadership is a crucial component of advancing excellence in PA education. I am currently a PA Program Director and Department Chair for the Department of Medical Sciences where I oversee 5 additional graduate programs: Cytotechnology, Clinical Perfusion, Genetic Counseling, Medical Nutrition, and Respiratory Therapy. Additionally, I have completed my doctoral degree in PA education with a focus on leadership. I can draw on these experiences in the areas of effective leadership strategies and the ability to drive organizational growth. I am committed to promoting and implementing leadership development and mentorship programs for PA educators to provide the necessary training and support to enhance leadership skills and foster a culture of continuous improvement.
The servant attitude and humility are the values that I do my best to live on a daily basis. As a leader, my role is to serve others to the best of my ability. I live the servant lifestyle with my wife, children, employment, church, and all activities. Humility is the key to any good leader. That is something that I have had to learn over my lifetime, but looking back, it is one of the most critical attributes any leader can possess.
The Board of Directors for the PAEA represent all PA educators and the organization as a whole. Providing that representation requires a perspective that sees many different perspectives. The strengths that I bring to the Board of Directors are being team-focused, listener, humble, able to find common ground and problem solve, out of the box thinker, creative thinker, honesty, and able to have difficult conversations and disagree in respectable manner.
Additionally, I bring an understanding of the struggles of different PA programs. I have had the responsibilities related to the positions of Academic Coordinator, Admissions Coordinator, and Clinical Coordinator. I have been employed in a public institution, private catholic institution, and academic medical center. I have been Program Director at both an established PA program and new, developing PA program going through the provisional accreditation process. I am currently the Department Chair of an interprofessional department. I have been understaffed, under-budgeted, and lacked resources to meet accreditation needs. I have had to navigate many sensitive situations in my career. As a Director-At-Large for the PAEA, I can contribute an appreciation of the challenges of PA education in a multitude of environments and situations. The insights I have gained through my past experiences can serve PA educators and drive forward the mission and values of the PAEA.
Robert D. Hadley, PhD, PA-C
I am extremely pleased to be able to run for reelection to the PAEA Board. The past 3 years as a new Director at Large have been highly educational and an incredible experience. I have known members of the staff and Board for quite a few years, but working with them regularly has been a much higher experience. I have so much respect for our Board members and PAEA staff!
I must say that one of the most important insights from my first term on the Board is that I feel like I am not finished. It actually feels like things are just getting started and are now running as they should. Coming on the Board during the pandemic shutdown was a somewhat diluted experience, with much activity related to managing responses to COVID-19. The events following the George Floyd murder rightfully dominated our functions as well. Overcoming “imposter syndrome” in the early parts of the term was a personal barrier, so I am even more keen to continue my involvement in another 3-year Board term.
There are many important issues facing our organization in the coming years, and I would be grateful to be able to be a part of implementing our future. Thank you.
In my 20+ years of experience in Admissions, one of my driving principles has been to be able to offer an opportunity for disadvantaged applicants to enter a profession with all the rewards that we know so well. My educational experience in rural and underserved areas with significant poverty and lack of educational resources has provided the opportunity for me to help families move out of poverty and into a respected career. I have learned that promoting equity and inclusion means facilitating access for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and also for economically and educationally impacted people. I think that my leadership in my Admissions positions has had a positive impact, and I bring this attitude to my Board service.
One aspect of my leadership has been in encouraging student interest in teaching and research. This interest has been carried over into my involvement as a Board liaison with the Future Educator Fellowship Steering Committee. The future crop of PA educators is in our classrooms now, and now is a perfect time to identify and grow those educators of the future. The FEF and other student outreach programs are an important effort for the Board, and it has been an honor for the past 2 ½ years to help promote these efforts.
My prior service on the Faculty Development MAC and my interactions with the FDMAC as Board liaison have reinforced my belief that faculty development is essential for our profession to move forward. It has been my privilege to work with the FDMAC to help provide resources to faculty to aid them in educational best practices and in their own career trajectories.
The PAEA Board is in a unique position to be able to nurture programs’ growth in the important areas of leadership, scholarship, equity and inclusion. I feel that I can contribute to these missions if I have the honor of a second term as a Director at Large.
It is important as a leader to speak up and speak out. Our core values of diversity, equity and inclusion are literally under attack. There are efforts in several states to limit diversity, equity and inclusion, and even make discussions of these concepts illegal. It is up to national organizations like ours to stand up for what is right; we cannot simply wait for someone else to take up the challenge.
In my past 2 ½ years on the Board I have seen that we truly do have the ability to leverage our values and make progress against these threats against our profession. However, it feels like my own participation is just starting, and I would welcome the opportunity to continue to speak loudly and plainly when needed, in a second term as Director at Large.
Sustainability of the profession of PA education and the Board’s leadership is an ongoing challenge The Board continues to focus on good governance and sustainability for its function, and I believe that I can work with other members to optimize these values.
I think my particular strength is to be able to see and understand different or opposing viewpoints. This is an essential ability for establishing consensus on important issues. I tend to think carefully and analyze all sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion.
Being able to present an argument, consider alternatives and work with others toward an optimal outcome is an essential skill that I believe I have honed. My wide experience in PA education, over 25 years, has given me a valuable perspective. Over these years I have worked as a member and a chair in several capacities with PAEA (and APAP before that), and as a Director at Large on the Board. I believe my mode of thinking and my experience allow me to contribute in a meaningful way to team outcomes.
Shinu. K. Kuriakose, DHSc, PA-C
By way of introduction, my name is Shinu Kuriakose and I am an associate professor in the Department of Physician Studies at New York Tech, located in Old Westbury, New York. I have been an educator for the last 12 years while also practicing in the field of clinical psychiatry for the last 22 years. In terms of my education, I earned a Doctor of Health Science degree from Nova Southeastern University in 2016.
I have had the privilege of serving on the PAEA Finance Committee for 4 years. It was a superb experience collaborating with great colleagues and staff and it was eye-opening to see the inner workings of this wonderful organization by following the “money.” As most of us wear dual hats, educator and clinician, we see firsthand the impact of PA in our respective communities. The recent pandemic did spotlight PAs favorably by emphasizing our multitasking skills and we need to keep this momentum going to educate our various stakeholders!
If I am fortunate to be elected to the board, my priorities would be to continue to educate the public on the role of PAs with a particular emphasis on underserved high school students. As part of PAEA’s focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals, these students must be educated on who PAs are, the path to be a PA, and the requirements needed. As research has shown, a major disparity leading to poor health outcomes occurs when minority patients are unable to access providers with similar cultural backgrounds. PAEA is in a unique position to lead from the front to face this challenge head-on and ensure that the PA student population reflects the diversity of our nation’s population.
On a personal note, I am married and live with my beautiful wife and two daughters on Long Island, NY
According to Healthy People 2030, a major disparity leading to poor health outcomes occurs when minority patients are unable to access providers with similar cultural backgrounds. The importance of diversity among healthcare professionals cannot be underestimated. It is associated with improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction, and better patient-provider communication. Nationally, the demographics attest to this inequity. In the most recent US census, minorities constitute 42.3% of the total US population; however, only 20.3% of working Physician Assistants belong to minority groups. Increasing awareness of the Physician Assistant (PA) profession among underrepresented minority high school students may help to bridge this gap. Although the PA profession enrolls a greater percentage of underrepresented students in our programs compared to other health professions, the number of underrepresented PA students in the United States has remained static at 22% for the last five years. Minority PAs who practice medicine are more likely to care for the underserved and to work in primary care settings compared to nonminority physician assistants. There is a strong need to develop a proactive approach to increase the diversity of both applicants and matriculants in PA educational programs.
It is crucial that the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) takes steps to become the leader in the domain of including students matriculating into PA programs from all walks of life and be diverse enough to all aspects of diversity including socioeconomic aspects. The PAEA organization, its member schools, and its constituent faculty and students should take concrete steps to reach out to underserved high schools during the formative years when students make many of the choices including their profession and college major. This outreach, in conjunction with the various stakeholders, should include reaching out and making presentations to underserved school districts and informing those students regarding the scope of practice of a PA and how they can make a difference in the healthcare arena.
Finally, PAEA should invest in some scholarship funds to allow exceptional candidates to attend PA schools without worrying about economic uncertainties as they will allow the profession to choose our brightest and most charismatic future leaders.
PAEA must try to live up to its principles and core values as this will help inform our future students on what the profession is really about. The focus on justice should be that everyone deserves equal healthcare without other biases based on gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic hurdles. The concept of equity, inclusion, and diversity is based on making the roots of our association strong by encouraging students from underserved communities to enroll in our programs and eventually become valuable members in the healthcare system. Certainly, quality and collaboration go hand-in-hand with our partners in medicine and other stakeholders in the community. Only such a foundation can lead to positive outcomes for patients and prove to be a boon to our society.
The concept of learning never stops and having PAs always keep learning and being up to date with their clinical knowledge would make us great advocates in our profession which would entail that this is a sustainable healthcare profession where lifelong learning and service is emphasized.
My peers would describe me as a leader (in the servant leader model.) I am an individual who does like to lead by example: be it at the workplace where I used to supervise 15 psychiatric PAs on our service or being a faculty member in a program with 150 students. I have often found that leadership does not entail telling people what to do or who to follow; rather, it is a process of educating and enlightening people to make competent decisions for themselves with the best outcomes. A true leader strives to make others better than him/herself as this is the only logical way for an organization to move forward and shine. True leader must surround themselves with people who are smarter and more driven than themselves as an approach such as this makes the best sense for the most important person we serve: our patients.
Mitigating patients’/colleagues’ concerns by displaying empathy, encouraging others with one’s enthusiasm, and being patient with all around us allows everyone to feel welcome, feel they can voice their opinions, and that their opinions are respected. A positive attitude helps make the team much better than just raw intelligence or people working in their own silos. Collaboration is the key to making the unit strong and a leader must serve as an example when embarking and acting on these principles.
Gabrielle Linder Poole, DMS, MSPAS
I am excited for the opportunity to be considered for a Director at Large position with the PAEA Board of Directors. I began my career in PA education in 2016 as the Founding Program Director for the PA Program at Charleston Southern University. During my time as Program Director, I led our program through each phase of accreditation and oversaw the matriculation and graduation of our first four cohorts. In May 2023, I was named the Dean of the College of Health Sciences at CSU after serving as the Interim Dean since January 2022. In this role, I support our PA, Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, Clinical Counseling, Kinesiology, and Public Health programs.
My first PAEA forum was in Minneapolis – I will never forget the feeling I had when I walked into the opening session. I knew within minutes that transitioning into PA education was the best decision I could have made. I immediately felt connected to the people in the room. I spent most of the forum soaking up as much knowledge as I could to use for our accreditation application, but I left the forum knowing that I wanted to be able to give back to this organization in meaningful ways. In 2018, I was selected to serve on the Leadership Mission Advancement Commission. I spent four years with this group and felt honored to have the opportunity to work with incredible PA educators on the importance of integrating leadership principles into each aspect of our work. This past year, I was given the opportunity to serve on the Finance Steering Committee and was selected as a Program Director Workshop Facilitator. Each of these opportunities has enhanced my knowledge about this incredible organization, and if elected to serve as a Director at Large, I would be committed to the mission and vision of PAEA in every aspect of my role.
Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to work together towards achieving a common goal. This statement is at the core of who I am as a leader and would be foundational to my position if elected to serve as Director at Large for the PAEA. I believe all PAs are leaders because of the opportunity we have to influence people, whether it be our patients, our students, or our colleagues. It is vital to the success of our profession that we work to instill this idea in our students while they are on their educational journeys so they are prepared with the knowledge and skills they need to be leaders in their communities when they graduate and that PAEA provide the resources our PA educator colleagues need to be successful leaders as well.
Scholarship is instrumental to the success of any organization as the leaders and members of the organization must be committed to continuing their education. A desire for continual learning must be intrinsic for improvement and quality. If provided the opportunity to serve in a leadership role with the PAEA, I will be committed to advancing scholarship in an effort to promote growth, innovation, and the success of our profession.
I believe equity and inclusion must be foundational principles for organizations. This is vital to ensure everyone within the organization has the individual resources they need to be able to excel, develop their skills, and grow in their careers. Equity and inclusion within PAEA will create an environment that celebrates our differences, works to eliminate bias, and creates opportunities to ensure everyone has access to the resources they need to be successful. As a leader I strive to be intentional in creating policies, procedures, and practices that instill integrity, respect, equity and inclusion within the groups of people with whom I lead, and I would be committed doing the same for PAEA if elected to this position.
In April 2021, I was honored to be a part of the PAEA Leadership Summit in which we spent time looking at the organization’s mission, vision, and core values. As a leader within my own PA program, I believe the core values of an organization are foundational to shaping a thriving culture, one that respects and honors the individuality of its leaders, members, and stakeholders. I also believe it is important to revisit an organization’s mission, vision, and core values regularly as a reminder of the commitment everyone has made to them. If elected to serve as a Director At Large Board Member, I would be dedicated to upholding PAEA’s core values of justice, equity, inclusion, diversity, quality, collaboration, well-being, learning, service, and sustainability. Specifically, I would work to ensure that the work I do for the organization is constantly being evaluated through the lens of our values. Decisions we make as board members must align with the organization’s mission, vision, and core values, and I would be committed to leading the organization with this as a top priority.
High-functioning teams are collaborative, innovative, and aligned with a clear purpose or goal that aligns with the organization’s mission and vision, which is why I believe a values-based approach to leadership is so important. This type of approach allows leaders to focus on creating a healthy and thriving culture, providing a space for individuals on the team to engage in life-giving and fulfilling work. I have been blessed to be positioned to lead numerous teams throughout my career and continue to be humbled by the challenge of doing this well.
As a servant leader, I strive to come alongside those whom I lead, focusing on their growth and well-being, encouraging them to perform as highly as possible, and recognizing their work and accomplishments in meaningful ways. As a leader, I work to earn the trust of those whom I lead and to provide my team members with the tools they need to be successful so that I can trust them. I believe this leads to increased productivity, communication, and teamwork.
I am a strategic thinker who enjoys motivating groups of people toward a clear and compelling vision for the future. I am organized, and I recognize the importance of ensuring the policies and procedures that guide my organization are effective and efficient. As I continue to grow in my leadership roles, I am learning to be a better listener and to ask questions that help team members articulate the things they need to be successful.
Anne Schempp, MPAS, EdD, PA-C
I’m thrilled to be a candidate for a Director At Large position with the PAEA Board of Directors. In my education career, I’ve worked in diverse areas of healthcare education: pre-health advising, interprofessional education, curriculum development, assessment, student support, and diversity and equity initiatives. Together with my work as a PA program director, this broad engagement has given me a deep understanding of the education landscape. Although I don’t know exactly what the future holds, I’m excited about it!
In considering this Board of Directors leadership position, I’ve spent time this past year reaching out to mentors, past board members, and talking with my colleagues. I’ve appreciated the collaborative and inclusive culture that defines the work of PAEA, and appreciate our community’s valuing of open dialogue, respect for diverse perspectives, and strong dedication to support and advocacy. These values hold great significance for me, both personally and professionally. Given my values and broad education leadership experiences, I believe that I can make a meaningful and positive impact on both the board itself and the wider PAEA community. I am truly passionate about the welfare of our organization and the individuals we serve.
I’m always happy to chat about my candidacy, so please don’t hesitate to reach out!
I’m grateful for the opportunity,
I’m thrilled to apply for this PAEA board position and be part of advancing excellence in PA
education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion. With 15 years of dedicated
service in the field of PA education, I bring a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to
making a positive impact.
Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of PA education, and I’ve had the privilege of serving in various influential roles. I’m excited to bring my diverse experiences to this board position, where I aim to empower educators, inspire students, and elevate the profession. By fostering collaboration, embracing emerging technologies, and encouraging innovation, I believe we can cultivate a dynamic and visionary leadership culture within PAEA.
As a lifelong learner and advocate for evidence-based practices, I’m dedicated to promoting scholarship in PA education. I value the integration of research, data-driven decision-making, and best practices. Collaborating with colleagues, researchers, and healthcare experts will enable us to navigate the complex challenges we face in healthcare education.
Achieving equity and inclusion in PA education is a fundamental goal for me. I firmly believe in creating an inclusive educational environment that welcomes people from all backgrounds. As a board member, I’ll be a strong advocate for initiatives that foster diversity, equity, and cultural humility in policies, resource development, and in its service to members. In this rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare and education, embracing technological advancements and educational innovations is crucial. Visionary education leadership will be more critical than ever. I’m committed to staying ahead of the curve, embracing change, and navigating the future successfully.
I have great confidence in my ability to make significant contributions to the growth and success of PAEA. I eagerly look forward to collaborating with fellow board members, sharing ideas, and working together to achieve our shared mission. It would be an honor to serve PAEA in this capacity.
I recognize and embrace the core values of PAEA as an organization, and have seen first-hand how those values drive the work of PAEA. As a leader, I acknowledge my privilege and I work very hard to advocate for inclusion and equity in all decision-making processes. As a member of the board, I would advocate for policies and initiatives that address systemic inequities in healthcare and PA education. I fully believe Inclusivity and diversity are essential for fostering innovation, creativity, and a rich collaborative environment that draws on the strength of our diverse community.
Collaboration is key to achieving excellence in education. I would foster a culture of collaboration, encouraging teamwork, open dialogue, and the sharing of knowledge and best practices. I would facilitate opportunities for continuous learning, professional development, and growth seeking input from faculty, students, and other important stakeholders.
Excellence in PA education requires a commitment to quality and service. I would continue to promote the high-quality work that has helped establish PAEA as a leader in healthcare education and I would advocate for continued integration of evidence-based practices, rigorous assessment methods, and continuous engagement to strive to best serve its members.
I believe it is essential that leaders prioritize the well-being of individuals and the sustainability of the organization as a whole. I would advocate for sustainable practices, responsible resource management, environmental stewardship, and long-term organizational resilience.
Being part of a great team is all about using our unique strengths to succeed together. One
strength that stands out for me is empathy. I work hard to listen to my colleagues, to
understand their perspectives, experiences, and emotions. By appreciating diverse
viewpoints and creating an inclusive environment where everyone’s contributions are valued,
I’m able to help establish working relationships built on trust, respect, and open
I’m fueled by curiosity, always seeking new knowledge and fresh approaches to problem-
solving. In a team setting, my curiosity sparks thought-provoking questions, challenges
assumptions, and encourages innovative thinking. Embracing different perspectives and
bringing new ideas to the table helps me ensure a team is adaptable and forward-thinking.
Collaboration is the lifeblood of effective teamwork. I firmly believe that the best outcomes
come from working together and sharing responsibilities. I am comfortable promoting open
communication, active listening, and finding common ground. This builds trust, encourages
cooperation, and unlocks our collective potential.
Lastly, my creative and entrepreneurial spirit drives me to think outside the box, take calculated
risks, and embrace innovation. In a context of collaborative inquiry and work, I thrive on
exploring new ideas, experimenting with different approaches, and questioning the status quo.
In a team, this mindset helps me work with others to come up with fresh solutions and discover
untapped opportunities. Infusing creativity and entrepreneurial thinking into shared work, I
have found, cultivates a culture of innovation, resilience, and continuous improvement.
Patty J. Scholting, MPH, MPAS
My name is Patty Scholting, and I am pleased to announce my candidacy for the Director at Large position on the PAEA Board of Directors. For those of you who don’t know me, I have been in PA education for the past 15 years and currently on faculty at the Creighton University PA Program – Omaha as the Director of Curriculum and Assessment. My academic experience includes both the didactic and clinical phases of the curriculum.
For the past six years I have actively served on the PAEA Exam Development Board as an item writer for the End of Curriculum Exam. In addition, I was a member of the PAEA Government Relations Committee in the past. On the state level, I served the Nebraska Academy of PAs as President, a member of the board of directors at large and a member of the House of Delegates. These leadership opportunities have provided insight on the importance of clear communication with stakeholders and the general membership of each organization.
I have a clear understanding of the challenges that programs face in PA education including the shortage of clinical training sites, the burden of student debt, and incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the curriculum. However, these challenges are not insurmountable, I am committed to support PAEA’s advocacy agenda to find solutions to eliminate barriers to PA education, promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom and explore incentives for clinical preceptors. I will work with the Board and general membership to uphold PAEA’s mission of advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion.
In conclusion, to answer the question “What would you like the membership to know about you”; I am a hard worker, dedicated, realistic and most of all passionate about the PA profession. It would be my honor to serve the PAEA membership as Director at Large on the PAEA Board of Directors.
I will support PAEA’s mission of “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion” through refection, active listening, clear communication with key stakeholders and maintaining a flexible mindset to support an environment to guide process and change. Fostering educational excellence empowers the next generation of PA leaders to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion. I will support programs through advocacy for Title VII and other funding sources to create opportunities to maintain and expand high quality PA education that is equitably accessible to all. The shortage of clinical training sites continues to be a barrier for programs. Creating incentives for PA preceptors is a key element in solving this problem. I will support and advocate for federal funding to create incentives and eliminate barriers for preceptors. As the healthcare landscape evolves, so must the way we educate students. Faculty development is necessary to ensure our graduates are ready to practice medicine on day one. Designing innovative, competency-based curriculum and enhancing research skills must be a priority in faculty development. I believe that cultivating faculty leadership will support and strengthen the PA profession. I support funding to provide an avenue for faculty to obtain advanced degrees in education and research. Faculty fatigue is a reality in PA education and needs to be addressed. I will look for opportunities to support faculty retention and well-being. As a leader, I will learn from the past and take steps forward to create a more inclusive learning environment through open communication and dialogue. It truly takes a village to educate PA students and I am invested in identifying a path forward to create a culture that is supportive of programs, students, and faculty.
I believe that value-based leadership is a process that involves drawing upon our own values and beliefs and aligning them with the values that the organization has established. Value-based leadership provides direction and motivation when faced with challenges. Leaders have an important responsibility of creating and maintaining the organizational vision and keeping the organization’s values as its guiding principles. PAEA’s core values ensure access to healthcare and education for all. By practicing the art of listening we recognize that not every program, faculty, or student has the same needs. Voices matter and taking the time to listen to the membership and their perspective and experiences will help us move forward in promoting values such as quality, diversity and inclusion. Providing a quality education should be first and foremost, recognizing the importance of maintaining high educational standards will result in successful outcomes. Only through collaboration with the AAPA, ARC-PA, and NCCPA is this possible. We must strive to have a unified voice in all aspects of PA education and PA practice. The mental health of our faculty, staff, and students must be considered as healthcare evolves. We must continue to seek better ways to provide high quality education but not at the expense of faculty and student mental well-being. As faculty we must strive to grow and better ourselves through educational opportunities and service, recognizing that all decisions and actions must be sustainable for faculty, staff, and programs in order to ensure future success.
A high-functioning team works cohesively focused on a common goal. My strengths include 16 years of experience as a PA educator. I understand what it takes as a team to build and maintain a quality PA program. It begins with well-defined goals and priorities, open communication, trust, collaboration and respect. I have demonstrated these qualities in the leadership roles I have held over the years.
I have been a member of the PAEA Exam Development Board for the past 7 years as an item writer for the End of Curriculum exam. This position requires a team of individuals that have a common goal of creating a meaningful standardized exam for our students. I am proud of the work this committee has done and continues to do every year.
My time on the PAEA Government Relations and External Affairs Committee provided me insight on the priorities of the organization including clinical training, student and program support. Advocating for student loan forgiveness and increased funding for programs that will assist in removing the financial barriers for future PA students.
As State constituent leader serving as President of the Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants (NAPA), I demonstrated the ability to be an effective leader through open communication with the members of the academy. We worked as a team to change Nebraska’s practice laws thus opening access to care to everyone in the state.
I believe I have the qualities to work effectively as a member of the PAEA board of directors.
Daytheon Sturges, Ph.D., MPAS, PA-C
The convergence of my background and identity have created the roadmap that has allowed me to affect multi-level change. Intersectionality is key to how my life experiences have informed and cultivated my journey to becoming an experienced PA, educator, leader, and change agent for the PA profession and health equity.
My name is Daytheon Sturges and I was born and raised in rural Louisiana. I am the son of a janitor and a mom who did not graduate high school, but told me to go “Make them A’s” every single morning of school. I was met with health access issues early in life as the primary health spokesperson for my ailing mother. The necessity of advocating for my mother with little resources led me to the realization that I was going to be the change that I longed to experience – a culturally humble, equity-minded, high-quality clinician educator. With 15-years of experience, I have amassed clinical acumen and additional skills in educational leadership to help deploy PAs to address our national health and social needs.
I have strived to be a brave, action-oriented proponent for advancement be it through presentations, research, curriculum design, 5+ years of service as a JPAE editorial board member, workshop facilitator, DIMAC chair, and/or subject matter expert. I look forward to the opportunity to represent the PAEA membership and advocate for elevated opportunity, needed legislation, and enhanced equitable structures. As evidenced in my CV and through my actions and products I have produced during my tenure as an educator/PAEA volunteer, I will be a collaborative voice for you and the profession. I appreciate the possible opportunity to serve, which is rooted in my lived experiences and its intersection with the experiences of those I serve – all of you. I would appreciate your vote for Director-at-Large. Thank you.
As a PA educator for nearly a decade, I have ardently served my students, faculty, staff, patients, and the PAEA through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion. I am a transformational leader and plan to bring this style and energy to the Board of Directors as a Director-at-Large through the collective and foundational spirit of advancement. PAEA is a visionary organization and I would like to continue to advance our leadership by extending our reach and filtering all proceedings through an equity lens. Who are we serving? Who is not at the table? Who should be at the table? What are the downstream and upstream implications? Who is being helped? Who is being harmed? An example are our faculty and student leadership development opportunity offerings through fellowships, workshops, and digital learning hub. As we help faculty/staff/students tap into their leadership potential, we should also provide ample opportunities to apply these skills nationally. I am a proponent for micro-volunteering opportunities that are short-term/focused projects aligned with our mission advancement commissions or different operational sections. Micro-volunteering allows for inclusion and a spirit of belonging to the larger organization, while providing further opportunities for larger leadership roles. Both the PAEA and its members are beneficiaries of these scholarly contributions. Regarding scholarship, I will continue to help advance our Journal of PA Education (JPAE) through resources and recruitment of both peer reviewers and content submissions. The goal is to achieve an impact factor and for our members to consider JPAE as their first-choice to publish their research. I, along with many of my colleagues, continue to offer new resources e.g., I co-developed a Fall 2023 pre-forum workshop teaching the basics of qualitative research to diversify our members’ research methodologies and offer more perspectives regarding data collection/analysis. Lastly, to know me, is to know that equity and inclusion are at the core of all I do. I am suggesting all existing/future policies be assessed using an equity impact tool. I strive to model and continue having the necessary conversations rooted in justice that lead to inclusive/equitable actions for sustainability of our diversity goals. Representation is vital to our leadership structure down to our students in order to achieve our vision of “Health for all.” Advancing excellence in PA education is continuously creating systems that elevate, innovate, prioritize belonging, and stand firm on PAEA’s core values of justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity.
A leader should be mission-aligned and an embodiment of an organization’s core values. PAEA prides itself as a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) leader. As the current chair of the DIMAC and JEDI champion, I will continue to lend my expertise regarding JEDI to advance our initiatives and deliverables leading to positive outcomes that bolster health, recruitment, retention, and belonging. As evidenced in the many deliverables to the membership during my tenure as DIMAC chair, DEI subject matter expert, and as the former JEDI feature editor for JPAE, I have worked collaboratively with PAEA staff and our members to offer resources and recommendations to PA educators that enhance curriculum, inclusivity, admissions processes, DEI considerations regarding clinical precepting, and the movement toward anti-racism. This spirit of collaboration will continue to guide my interactions with fellow Board of Directors/PAEA members. My research interest focuses on burnout/emotional exhaustion among PA educators, which informs how I approach promoting wellbeing among our members by utilizing my skills as a Certified Health Education Specialist in developing targeted interventions. Service and learning are important tenets that should be prioritized. I hope to collaboratively support micro-volunteering opportunities and the possible exploration of developing micro-credentials/certificates in high-yield educational disciplines for PAEA members. Of course, my leadership goals should include measurable objectives in order to achieve sustainability through a process evaluation framework ensuring longevity and achievement of desired outcomes. As a candidate and leader, I align with PAEA’s core values and look forward to future partnership.
I lead with a spirit of inquiry. I do not make one-sided, singular decisions. Instead, I ask questions and invite the perspectives of those I am serving. I consider this practice a strength as it results in shared decision-making and representation of the team’s exact needs. As a transformational leader, I view the team dynamic as a sea of possibility by leveraging the unique skills/diverse perspectives that exist to inform the collaborative work in which we are engaged. This approach utilizes another personal strength, which is cultivating a brave space for communication and inculcating a sense of belonging. It is important for the team to align with mutual agreements and rules of engagement to create an environment of respect and decrease the sense of fear of contributing to conversations. Though not every space may be safe, the goal is for it to be brave. Inviting the team in to fully participate results in a sense of belonging. Because of my additional background in community health promotion and health education, I consider upstream and downstream implications of any decision that is considered. This practice is important to ensure desired results and sustainability. Another strength is my ability to apply an equity impact lens to any situation in order to make sure we are achieving PAEA’s mission of “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion.” I will be an active partner with PAEA and a well-informed representative of PAEA members in our journey toward continuous advancement.
Elias Villarreal Jr., DMSc, PA-C
I am Elías
I am brown.
I am gay.
I am a son and a brother.
I am a friend.
I am a scholar and a learner.
I am a follower and a leader.
I am a teacher and a colleague.
I am a healer.
I am an advocate and a listener.
I am a changer.
I am an adapter.
I am an improver.
I am healthy.
I am unique.
I am creative.
I am passionate.
I am smart.
I am driven.
I am loyal.
I am consistent.
I am kind.
I am generous.
I am trustworthy.
I am direct.
I am a champion.
I am capable.
I am worthy.
I am me.
Educational leaders build an academic culture by demonstrating compassion, dedication, honesty, and respect while serving as positive role models. A leader must promote individuality and dignity amongst those in their charge and foster a learning environment that assists those in their charge in realizing their fullest potential. The leadership role is one of service and guidance, emphasizing the worth and dignity of every stakeholder. The following four tenets characterize my leadership philosophy.
- I believe that educational leadership is a collaborative venture.
While a single person can play a pivotal role in transforming an organization, no person can enact change or maintain excellence without the shared leadership of other colleagues. As a leader in PAEA, my goal is to encourage, then prepare members to become leaders who understand the complexities of human dynamics, be change agents, and work with others to create working and learning environments that foster individual motivation and success.
- I believe leadership should focus on achieving members’ professional and social outcomes.
Leadership should focus on every member’s learning, psychological, social, and emotional needs. Our learning communities in PA education must foster high expectations for all faculty and staff. They also must incorporate an ethic of care that recognizes that not all members are the same and values those differences. As a leader in PAEA, I aim to facilitate the creation of effective professional development curricula and learning environments.
- I believe that leadership should be based on the premise of inclusion and facilitation.
The primary emphasis of professional development should be to effectuate members’ full potential. The complexities of our increasingly diverse and economically stratified society mandate that all members, regardless of their differences from “mainstream” society, be allowed to succeed in their profession and society. As a PAEA leader, I will facilitate the inclusion and success of all members, regardless of sex, color, social class, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, etc., because I have a professional, ethical, and legal obligation to do so.
- I believe leadership should be responsive to changing expectations while affirming our programs’ numerous daily successes.
Skilled educational leaders understand the delicate balance between responsiveness to political and community expectations and advocacy for current successful practices. As a PAEA leader, it is critical to understand the political, economic, and cultural contexts surrounding PA education.
I believe very strongly that the four tenets of leadership I have detailed previously speak to and align with PAEA’s core values of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, quality, collaboration, well-being, learning, service, and sustainability.
- I believe that educational leadership is a collaborative venture.
Tenet #1 aligns with inclusion and collaboration.
- I believe leadership should focus on achieving members’ professional and social outcomes.
Tenet #2 aligns with justice, equity, diversity, and well-being.
- I believe that leadership should be based on the premise of inclusion and facilitation.
Tenet #3 aligns with inclusion, service, and sustainability.
- I believe educational leadership should be responsive to changing expectations while affirming our educational programs’ numerous daily successes.
Tenet #4 aligns with learning, service, and sustainability.
I am well-known for my accomplishments in educational technology. I was instrumental in garnering the Apple Distinguished Program Award at the University of Texas-Pan American (2013) and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (2015). Individually, I was awarded the Apple Distinguished Educator designation in 2015. I was awarded for my teaching accomplishments with the university-wide award for Teaching Excellence at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (2016). In 2022, my contributions helped the UC San Diego School of Medicine garner the Apple Distinguished School designation.
I have extensive leadership experience serving on numerous boards and committees, including the Board of Directors of the Texas Academy of PAs serving as director-at-large, secretary, vice president, and president for two terms over 14 years. Additionally, I served on the Board of Directors for the Texas PA Foundation, the Valley AIDS Council in South Texas, and the Awards Committee Chair for PAEA. I recently served as the Executive Secretary for the Arizona State Association of PAs after completing a two-year term as a Director-at-Large.
I am a well-known participant in all things diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and am consistently sought after by both PAEA and NCCPA to lend my expertise in this space to others seeking to build on their successes or their lack thereof. As a vocal Latino and advocate for those who are marginalized, I have made it a career goal to help those most in need of development, advice, support, and guidance.